Page images
PDF
EPUB

said of it, “ My hour"; as if all the interests of his being,

' the events of his life, the purposes of his mission, and the glory of his kingdom had all been condensed into one grand mysterious hour. Now, the words suggest several practical thoughts.

[ocr errors]

I. That Christ's hour was divinely predestinated. “No man laid hands on him, because his hour had not yet come." That is, the predestined hour for Him to finish his gracious work, to substantialize all typical shadows, and to lay down his precious life for the redemption of a sin-ruined world, had not arrived. Such an hour had to come, for it had been predestinated; therefore, it was impossible for any earthly power either to prevent its occurrence, or to hasten its arrival. The exact date of this hour was a fixed fact in the calendar of time! It was “the hour and power of darkness;" and also the predestinated hour of Christ's glorification ! “ These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, , and said : Father, the hour is come, glorify thy Son, that thy Son also, may glorify thee.” This was evidently the hour of destiny.

First : The numerous predictions of Scripture prove this It is a fact that the solemn hour of Christ's passion had been predicted. “To him all the prophets did witness." They witnessed to his supernatural character, his great humiliation, his death and resurrection! And the apostles explained the predictions of the prophets in the light of these wonderful events. They declared to the world that “those things which God liad showed by the mouth of all his prophets that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled." The hour of Christ's death, in which an atonement was made for the sins of the world, was the burden of all the prophecies, the substance of all the shadows of the old dispensation, and the sublime theme of all the apostles. The Scriptural proof-tests of this statement are too numerous to be quoted; like s golden thread they extend from Genesis to Revelation ; they sparkle like gems on every page of the Bible. In the earliest dawn of human history it was predicted that the seed of the woman should bruise the head of the serpent, which is explained by most biblical expositors as referring to the conquest of Christ over Satan on Calvary. This was a Divine index designed to guide the minds of men down through the ages to the sublime hour of destiny in which the glorious Son of man would thoroughly defeat the Old Serpent, the spiritual adversary of the human race. Everything in the economy of this world was directed towards this central event. All the principles, opinions, institutions, and theories of mankind, marched along to one grand crisis on the cross, and from which emerged a new order of things-a new birth for the worn-out race of man. A new and more glorious era was commenced. The promise of this hour was coeval with the fall of man, as we have already observed. The ancient patriarchs had believed this, and relied in faith upon it. The whole ceremonial institution symbolized it in its types and shadows. The prophets all proclaimed it eloquently in their books. Every temporal event in the history of the Jewish nation was suggestive of it. It was dimly and imperfectly symbolized even in the mythology of the heathen. The grandest achievements of learning and civilization among the different nations of the world, co-operated in preparing the way for it. , All the events of Providence centred in it. Christ himself was sensibly conscious of it in every step of his life, and he frequently warned his disciples of its solemn approach. Its influence has permeated all the hours of time. It was emphatically the hour of destiny: not the destiny of one man, nor of one nation, not even the destiny of Christ individually, but the destiny of the whole universe, visible and invisible, as centred in Him. All that preceded this hour was typical and shadowy, and all that succeeded it is real and permanent. We assert that it was the hour of destiny.

Secondly : The lo g-suffering of God in the preservation of the human race proves this. Why was the human race suffered to go on in its sinful revolt against God, from gene. ration to generation, and from century to century, unpunished?

:

Why did He not inflict on sinful man the penalty of His violated law ? Is not God a being of infinite justice? Is He not infinitely zealous of his own glory, and of the unsullied honour and purity of his throne? Is not sin exceedingly odious and abominable in his sight? Does not the Bible declare of Him: “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity; wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tonguel"

Can it be that the deserved penalty of moral transgression is withheld because there yet remain in human nature such redeeming qualities as shall atone for past sin, and lead man eventually to a radical and permanent reformation! Alas! the moral history of the human race from the fall of Adam until the advent of the Messiah, supplies the most conclusive demonstration of the utter falsity of this hypothesis. Man, as a sinner, is totally depraved, and is in a lost and hopeless condition as regards his own resources of salvation.

If this be true, why was he spared and tolerated to go on in his sins ? Why was he not hunted down like the fallen angels into everlasting darkness, wretchedness, and woe, the very moment he transgressed the righteous law of God ? Was it because sin was not obnoxious to God; or did He lack the power to punish the guilty, and enforce the penalty of his law ? No; this is impossible! Reason, conscience, and revelation testify that sin is abominable unto the Lord; and also that he is a being of omnipotent power. Yet He suffered man to live, and He blessed him with many evidences of his sympathy, love, and fellowship, Ignore the fact of Christ's atonement, and what reasonable ground is there left upon which we can account for the long forbearance of a just God towards a sinful race? We ask this question of the proud philosopher who claims to understand and explain the laws of the universe Let him answer it if he can. We put this question to the scoffing sceptic, who hurls his mean sneers and impions taunts against the glorious fact of revelation. Let him gitt us a rational solution of this problem. We appeal to the subtle rationalist, who, under a false pretext of seeking after truth, clandestinely endeavours to rob the blessed Word of God of its supernatural character. Let him, if he has it in his ability, give us a satisfactory answer to this question. Let any of our self-righteous moralists, our modern Pharisees, tell us how sin can be forgiven without an atonement ? It is only in the light of the important transactions of this mysterious hour of destiny, referred to in our text, that we can see clearly why God suffered man to live in his sins, and bestowed so many blessings upon him. Man was spared when he sinned, because the marvellous work of this hour had been predestinated from eternity. It was ordained that in the fulness of time Christ should suffer, the just for the unjust. that He ght bring us to God. The human race has been continued on carth since the very moment sin entered the world, through the ricarious merits of Christ. There was an hour to dawn in which the claims of the law would be adjusted; the mystery of forbearance explained ; and the course of everlasting joy and gratitude made manifest. Christ said, “For this cause came I to this hour.It was the hour of destiny.

Thirdly: The influence which this hour has exerted on the condition of the world proves it. The transactions of this hour have wielded a wide and extensive influence on the minds of men and the events of history in all ages. It is a retrospective and a prospective influence, extending back to all past generations and onward to all future generations. The spirits of just men made perfect, of angels in glory, and probably the inhabitants of all other worlds, as well as sinners on earth, have had in the sublime events of this hour perhaps a clearer conception and a more glorious exhibition of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, the majesty of divine justice, the infinitude of divine love, the glory of divine condescension, the riches of divine grace, and of the depth of divine wisdom, than they ever had obtained before. There is no event in the universe so marvellous, important, and suggestive as the death of Christ. This was the grand theme of patriarchs, priests, prophets, and apostles," Unto whom it was revealed that not

ز

unto themselves, but unto us, they did minister the things which are now reported unto you, with the Holy Guost sent down from heaven ; which things the angels desire to look into.” This has been the theme of all Christians since that period, and it will be the theme of wonder and of praise to all created intelligences through endless ages. A contemplation of it fills the heart of every Christian with love, and stamps his actions with holiness. The influence of this hour has been spreading and deepening through the ages. Its effects are visible on the social condition of the world. Its influence has extended to every branch of literature and science ; it has elevated the moral character of all our institutions. This hour has, like the sun, lighted up the world ; its rays have penetrated into the dark regions of the earth, and its heat is being diffused rapidly through the great heart of humanity, which had been chilled by sin. Life, increasing vigour, and moral beauty flow out of that hour. Now, can it be possible that the grand event of this mysterious hour, to which all the predictions of the prophets refer, to which all the events of time and eternity are related directly or indirectly, upon which the destiny of all men is suspended, into the wonders of which all the angels gaze with admiration—an event whose influence is felt through all the relations of our being, which has changed the moral. aspect of the world, strengthened truth and weakened error, elevated the lowly and humbled the proud-can it be possible that this is a fortuitous occurrence? Then the solar. position of the sun, the balancing of the worlds, yea, the universe itself, with all its laws, phenomena, and events, are all the result of chance. Blot out this hour with its sublime events and the moral universe is left without a sun, the system of providence is inexplicable, the gracious purposes of the Deity are obscured, and the moral destiny of the human race is involved in impenetrable darkness and uncertainty !

Now the hour which has exerted and does exert such an influence wide-spread and lasting, must have been predes tinated. It was indeed the hour of destiny. Observe again

« PreviousContinue »